tv Countdown With Keith Olbermann MSNBC August 21, 2009 1:00am-2:00am EDT
points, tom delay. >> will you ask the president to tell me his gift certificate -- i mean his gift certificate, birth certificate. >> tom wants coupons. senator john ensign's pretzel logic. his infidelity was nowhere as bad as president clinton's and he shouldn't be impeached because -- >> i haven't done anything legally wrong. >> so senator vitter's infidelity with illegal prostitutes? you're saying he should be impeached. uh-oh. all that and more on "countdown." >> this is a good deal. good evening from new york. in the classic "peanuts" lucy repeatedly convinced charlie brown she would allow him this time to kick the football she held out for him. time after time she pulled it away at the last possible second causing him to fly in the air and land flat on his back. the allegory of charlie brown and the football possibly reflected in our fifth story in the "countdown," in one breath
the president taking direct aim at unnamed republicans, accusing them of making a decision to deny him a victory on health care. pure politics. in the next breath the president adding that he wants to give the republicans negotiating health care in the senate a chance. the president addressing two very different audiences this afternoon fielding questions from supporters of the dnc. hours earlier from callers to the radio show of a conservative talk show host accusing the opposition of trying to restrict it at all costs. >> i think early on a decision was made by the republican leadership that said, look, let's not give them a victory. maybe we can have a replay of 1993/'94 when clinton came in. he failed on health care then we won in the midterm elections and we got the majority. and i think there's some folks who were taking a page out of that playbook. >> at the dnc president obama ripping another page out of the republican playbook to defeat the health care plan. they're lying about what's in it. >> the truth is, there's no plan that has ever been considered under health care reform in congress that covers illegal immigrants. nobody's proposed that. and yet a huge percentage believe that that's the case. nobody has proposed anything
remotely close to a government takeover of health care. none of the plans that are out there. the most liberal progressive plans that have come forward and come out of committee, all of them presume that if you've got private health insurance, you can keep your health insurance. >> the president though not exactly clearing up the confusion about whether he would sign a bill without a public option in it. >> this is sort of like the belt and suspenders concept to keep up your pants. you know, the insurance reforms are the belt. the public option can be the suspenders. and what we're trying to just suggest to people is is that all these things are important. >> mr. obama having guaranteed one radio caller that he would get a health care reform bill passed telling both him and the audience at the dnc he would prefer to do so with the support of the republicans. >> we don't know yet whether we've got any republican support. we've got three republicans who've been working very
diligently. charles grassley, mike enzi and olympia snowe. i give those three republicans a lot of credit because they're under enormous pressure not to engage in any kind of negotiations at all. and in the current political climate, they are showing, you know, some significant result. i don't know if in the end they can get there. >> especially every time senator grassley opens his mouth, the iowa republican now directly challenging the president to give up the public option as a condition of republican involvement. telling "the washington post" it was "pretty important if you're really interested in a bipartisan bill." but wait, there's more. senator grassley pointing at town hall anger the reason why the scope needs to be scaled back. "people are signaling that we ought to slow up and find out where we are and don't spend so much money and don't get us so
far into debt." if you can consider health industry employees a sort of right-wing militia members but only know they hate this president if you consider them regular people. a message today from senator ted kennedy it is time to start planning for a future without him in it. 15 months into his battle with brain cancer, our favorite viewer is urging governor patrick of massachusetts and state legislators to change the state law that requires a senate seat which has been vacated to remain empty for five months before anything can be done to fill it. time now to turn to our own howard fineman of "newsweek" magazine and good evening, howard. >> hi, keith. >> by stating flat out he believed republicans made this decision to deny him a political victory on health care reform, to do to him what they did to president clinton in '94 especially when you consider his audience at the time, is that the most forceful, the most unequivocal we've heard the president yet in this debate? >> well, he's being forceful in tactics. i think this is the most tactically forceful accusation he's made saying flat out he
thinks maybe the republicans are out to do him in. but the problem is, he hasn't been forceful enough on the substance and clear enough because they haven't fully decided on exactly what's in the plan, so you've got suspenders and you've got a belt, but really obama standing there in his boxers. >> we'll continue the delightful imagery of the day that the president started. one thing of all things here that really confused me as a tactic, you've got one audience, this conservative radio show describes the republicans negotiating health care and the finance committee as working constructively. he said at least grassley, and he mentioned a couple of others, particularly grassley as dedicated then goes to a roomful of democratic supporters and says we don't know yet whether we have any republican support. the three republicans are working diligently but concluded he didn't know if they could get there. people who heard the first
message aren't capable of getting the second message via some other means. did the president not know that? the message tailoring seems to be a thing that went out about 1906. >> well, i've come to the conclusion that he likes the idea of deliberate confusion for what he thinks is bargaining room, i guess. but as i've said before, right here, i don't think it works that way when you're dealing with the congress, you got to hit them over the hit with a 2x4 and be clear and specific and hasn't done that. i think the reason he has people inside the white house telling him he has to get the 60 votes in the senate. the whole business about using reconciliation and only 50 votes is problematic because you don't get all of what you want. don't have the power. it's confusing in the conference
committee and jim messina under rahm emanuel is very close to max baucus who is the chief democratic negotiator in that finance committee. i think mussina is telling the president hang in there, we might be able to get a bipartisan deal. ironically i think his boss emanuel is more skeptical. >> the other 2x4s in the room did the president indicate whether he would sign the bill without the public option and give a tell on that at all or do we have two answers? >> i think he gave a tell which is that he doesn't -- it's not a deal-breaker if it's not in there. if you listen carefully to what he said, he said -- we return to haberdashery, he said the reform of regulation increased regulation of the health care industry is the belt and the public option can be the suspenders. i take the can be, i'm trying to read some tea leaves here, means that he doesn't -- you know it's not a deal-breaker. i've been told all along it isn't really a deal breaker for him. never has been.
>> well, what is he going to do if he doesn't have any democratic pants? >> quite serious, what happens if he alienates the people that elected him? >> that's in the process of happening if he plays it too cute by half here, which i think he's doing. i'm not quite sure what their strategy is. they emanate a sense of confusion, other thing, keith, air time is valuable. people's attention span is not unlimited. every time you see the president on tv explaining what's not in the bill. >> right. >> not what is in the bill. >> yeah, the football season starts in two weeks. he'll lose 20% of them right there. howard fineman, thanks. for more we'll turn to john alter senior editor at "newsweek" magazine. good evening. >> hi, keith. >> do we know what the president is doing? do you have a better idea than what you or howard does? >> i think he's undergoing message confusion to put it politely. to my mind, the problem is that he hasn't gotten to the core moral argument. he tried to do it when he was on
that call with religious leaders yesterday and tried to say it was a moral imperative but he hasn't closed that sale with the american people, in fact, hasn't even begun that sale and, instead everybody is talking about public options and costs and this and that and that focusing on the fact that this bill would end discrimination against sick people or people who have been sick, might be sick in the future and that it really is if you look at it in principle, it's a combination of the social security act and the civil rights act. and it's just not being sold that way and so people aren't buying right now. >> yeah, even if you're president you can only eat one desert at a time. you have to pick which one you want and explain why you want that one desert. >> yeah, and you do have to, you know, k-i-s-s, keep it simple, stupid. look at the polling that we saw on msnbc earlier in the day of people's understanding or misunderstanding of the bill, barack obama likes to treat people like adults but i think in this case maybe he should treat them more like children and simplify. >> how well has that worked for
senator grassley to turn over to his part of this tells "the washington post" on wednesday, we ought to be discussing getting 80 votes. monday he says he has no intention for voting for any bill, even if it's a negotiation he has achieved and attained. exactly how many chances does a republican like senator grassley get in this equation, never mind from his president, how many has he earned politically? >> i don't think any. i mean what's happening with him, he is worried about a republican primary in 2010. remember, the iowa republican party, they in the 1988 iowa caucuses, they voted for pat robertson. that's how conservative iowa republicans are. so i think the odds of senator grassley supporting any bill are very small and the only reason that he is still in this process is that the chairman of this committee max baucus has a lot of respect for him, worked closely together. it's important to both of them that they continue to have a good working relationship and
that is the only thing that's keeping grassley in the equation. >> and both grassley and baucus occasionally interface with the democrats. the story in "the wall street journal" today, do we buy into this? is this some sort of secondary set of negotiations or we're going -- there will be a simple let's increase the number of people in insurance bill and then the republicans might actually vote for so they don't look like they're trying to kill this and then is there a separate bill. anything to this idea of splitting the difference? >> i think there is something to it but not necessarily for republican votes except for perhaps for olympia snow or perhaps one or two others, but for some democrats, let's remember, they have not closed the deal with democrats. that's what we keep -- have to remind ourselves of over and over again, and the public option is not a done deal with a lot of blue dog democrats. so i think what's going to
happen is to the left you'll see some votes in the house where they're given a chance to vote on single payer to vote on a public option and then after more liberal members have gotten that out of their system, then they'll get to, you know, deal-cutting time and you'll see perhaps this bifurcating of the bill so that the tougher ones go through -- under reconciliation and require only 51 votes for the tough votes and the ones that are easier they'll do under ordinary business requiring 60 votes. >> jonathan alter of "newsweek" and msnbc, thank you for coming in, jon. have a good night. >> you too. using phony fantastic but to the gullible easy to believe fears of death to influence politics. death panels. ever seen republicans do that before, right? when i reported that the bush administration was exploiting fear of death by terrorism for political purposes, i was called every name up to and including traitor.
today mr. bush's first secretary of homeland security admits ashcroft and rumsfeld pressured him to raise the threat level the day before the 2004 election. to have been right about this is about as unpleasant a feeling as those reporters were right that the world series was fixed that one year or bernie madoff was a ponzi artist. (announcer) if you think all batteries are the same, consider this: when a tornado tore through holly, colorado, air life denver took to the air... their night-vision goggles keeping them safe on a perilous flight...
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manipulating the fear of terrorism for political gain is itself terrorism. and the nexus of politics and terror as employed by the bush administration is now tonight confirmed. in our fourth story in the "countdown" a push to raise the terror threat level on the very eve of the presidential election of 2004. tom ridge, the former secretary of homeland security claims to have stopped that particular instance of it. john dean joins me in a moment. "countdown" has obtained an advance copy of his book "the test of our times." a key passage concerns the terms of the events immediately preceding the election. friday, october 29, 2004, osama bin laden released a new videotape, you'll remember. mr. ridge did not think that warranted a change in the terror alert status. he writes "at this point there was nothing to indicate a specific threat and no reason to cause undue public alarm," but in a video conference call a vigorous some might say dramatic discussion ensued. attorney general john ashcroft strongly urged an increase in the threat level supported by
donald rumsfeld. there was no support for that position within our department, none. i wondered is this about security or politics." post-election analysis demonstrated a significant increase in the president's approval rating in the days after the raising of the threat level." the position of dhs ultimately prevailed because the white house staff agreed that raising the threat level could look plilgly motivated and said "i believe it pulled the go i've-up advocates back from the brnik. but politics, fear, credibility and security, after that episode i knew i had to follow through with my plans to leave the federal government." mr. ridge also claims that his department was justified in raising the terror threat level to orange in august of 2004 for the financial centers in new york, new jersey and washington. the warning had come just three days after the democratic national convention and it soon became evident that the evidence
supporting that warning was about four years old and largely out of date. never have i more wanted to be wrong about something but beginning in october 2005 we periodically ran a segment called, "the nexus of politics and terror." as this brief introduction from the first time will suggest, sad to say, we told you so. >> on may 10th of this year after his resignation former secretary of homeland security ridge looked back on the terror alert level changes that were issued on his watch. mr. ridge said "more often than not we were the least inclined to raise it. sometimes we disagreed with the intelligence assessment. sometimes we thought even if the intelligence was good, you don't necessarily put the country on alert. there were times when some people were really aggressive about raising it, and we said for that?" the nexus of politics and terror. please judge for yourself. >> we hope to have the time to bring you the whole piece updated tomorrow. for now let's bring in john dean, also author of "worse than watergate" and "conservatives without conscience."
good evening. >> good evening, keith. >> rate this in terms of our worst fears confirmations. the color coded bar chart, the whole thing was manipulated for political purposes at least some of the time. >> well, i'd say this is a modified limited hangout, keith. it's not a full confirmation. it's a hedge. tom ridge is a former u.s. attorney. he knows that he's talking about what could be criminal behavior. and he says at one point he wonders if this was -- if this was political or security so he backs off. he doesn't tell us yes wondered it or way thought rumsfeld said or ashcroft said, so he strongly suggested they said something that made him think it was political. but he hasn't given us. he certainly has opened the door and raised the question. >> and you describe it just now in terms of criminal activity. who is potentially liable and is anybody in position to do anything about it at this late
date? >> well, that's the problem. it is a late date. the statute of limitations has run. as i say, if there was pressure, if you do manipulate an agency of government it is a criminal offense. this is one of the things that caught a lot of people in watergate. it's a conspiracy to defraud the government under title 18 usc 371, one as i say a lot of people learned painfully what that statute meant and if you try to have a department do something that's not supposed to do and doing it for political reasons, you can go to jail for that. so as i say, i think that -- i think ridge has hedged this. he's been careful. but he certainly suggested he might have gotten information
that indicated this was the reason that he had concerns. >> as opportunistic as it might look, he did say these things, as i pointed out in the piece from 2005, right after the resignation, so there is a continuity here. it's not like he invented it or presented it out of whole cloth. the other side of the argument, though, john, that has been raised today that since the one example he points to from the days before the election in 2004 did not end in the elevation of the terror level threat and diminishes in some way the fact of pressure that was applied. is there not an obvious fallacy in there? >> there is an obvious fallacy and that isn't the way the criminal law works, for example. if somebody actually conspired to do this an overt act was made, pressure was made and didn't get the pressure to succeed, it wouldn't any way diminish the crime. looking at in a broader context if this was the conduct and history reveals to me the conduct, these people got away with a crime. >> the secretary's reaction to this was he needed to leave government. he needed to resign but, of course he didn't do it in the days before the election and he did not, neither did he resign immediately but was he not in a position perhaps to investigate this in some way, at least start to investigate it before somebody shut off his alarm clock?
>> well, when listening to your piece i thought if he's trying in the book to make this a principled resignation, instead of retroactively i don't think it's going to work at all. the question is why didn't he maybe investigate this further? indeed, was there more going on that made him wonder if this was political rather than national security. was he being told from the white house how to make national security decisions on homeland security? these are as i say and this is a very loaded little bit of commentary from this book. >> the message ultimately of the 2004 bush re-election campaign was vote for us or you might die. is anybody potentially going to be held account for that message having infected apparently official government actions as mr. ridge at least implies if not confirms? >> well, i think all of us --
those of us who followed this certainly believe this was the case, did manipulate it for political purposes, it did work. the question is i doubt if congress even on this issue will proceed any further even with this lead that ridge has given. if they won't, for example, look at torture, why are they going to look at color-coded warnings as being -- which aren't even close to that problem, politically manipulated. >> yeah, since we got rid of it the problem couldn't come up again so we never have to prosecute it. that's the line of logic now. >> we only had to elect bush to get rid of the color-coding system. >> john dean author of "broken government," "worse of watergate" and "conservatives without conscience." pick a book they all steam to apply to our topic tonight. thanks as always, john. >> thank you, keith. then there's the nexus of one baseball manager's head and one baseball coach's fist. a minor league management fight. and for the record it's a vacation, an industry website says it is a suspension for calling the president a racist. worst persons ahead on "countdown." good housekeeping gave it their seal. damage protection results leading salon brands can't beat.
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bests in a moment, then obama's birth certificate, obama's gift certificate, whatever. first on this date in 1907 was born teddy bergman who acted under that name and alan reed. had memorable on-camera roles, sally tomato in "breakfast at tiffany's" and played pancho via in "the postman always rings twice." one job he took as a voice actor that made him immortal. here's your hint. yabba dabba doo. alan reed even dreamt up the signature expression of fred flintstone and also yelled it. let's play "oddball." >> ha.
>> speaking of that, we begin in manitoba, canada where 5,600 fans show up for a minor league baseball game and a hockey fight broke out. after red hawk pitcher threw a pitch to the ace batter, the umpire warned both to knock it out but come vate started jawing with the red hawks' third baseman. the manager got involved stepping in between his player and the former coach and cooler heads prevailed. or not. we got a coach fight, people. both men traded blow, then tried to pull the other guy's sweater over their head. eventually their players pulled them apart. vate is jealous because simonek was on a baseball card and he wasn't. time for the "odd ball" technology report. this is a magazine insert that will go out in september. to elect subscribers of "entertainment weekly." inside is there not only imagery
of a soft drink but a two-inch tv screen on which you can watch pepsi commercials and clips from the cbs fall lineup. did i mention joel mchale has a new show coming up on nbc? only select subscribers in new york will get it due to the prohibitive cost of the stunt. by the way, this was shotted by "wired" magazine. you're watching a tv in a magazine shot by a magazine on your tv, unless you just downloaded this. how did we all not see this coming. secret bush cia international assassination squad. he was outsourced to blackwater. and senator ensign says his infidelity was not as big as bill clinton's. there's a lot of jokes to choose from there. these stories ahead. three best persons in the world. team warning, best oopsies. best tv oopsy, sean hannity of fox and stuart varney of the fox we're not doing any business channel, hannity said two bits of news came out. max baucus said social security could face default within two years. varney promptly agreed. spencer baucus said it. spencer bachus, not democratic senator max baucus of montana.
oh, and congressman bachus later admitted he made a mistake and meant to say deficit. social security could face a deficit within two years. first chance at default would be 2037 so fox got the name wrong and branch of government wrong and political party wrong and the quote and fact wrong. there's been no correction. dateline washington, number two best ex-politician oopsie. tom delay now affiliated with "dancing with the stars" on with chris, never mind for a moment he turned into one of those invasion of the body snatchers, conspiracy theory birther things listen for the blooper. >> will you do me a favor. ask the president to show me his gift certificate? i mean his girth certificate? his birth certificate. >> that's how obama can reform health care. send everybody a gift certificate. genius. genius, i tell you. and dateline la marque, texas, number one best politician oopsie. senator kay bailey hutchison vowing to make education a cornerstone of her candidacy for governor which she announced at la marque high where she was coronation queen in 1961. "i want to help to create an education system like i had." yeah, when senator hutchison attended it in la marque, texas, it was segregated.
news came out that cia leon panetta rushed out to kill al qaeda leaders. "the new york times" reports the cia outsourced parts of the job to blackwater. ♪ [ female announcer ] the eyes have it! give them the attention they deserve. [ female announcer ] with covergirl exact eyelights. amazing mascara that brightens the color of your eyes while it defines lashes. the bright idea? light reflecting metallics and a hint of tint that make eyes four times brighter. turn up the light in your eyes. [ female announcer ] with exact eyelights in four eyelighting shades from easy, breezy beautiful... covergirl.
emergency meeting. now telling "the nation" magazine the house intelligence committee will add blackwater to a probe of its plan. why would it outsource a highly sensitive function? it was mismanaged but its functions were partly transferred to blackwater when key officials retired from the cia and went to work for the private contractor. "the post" reporting blackwater got millions to train cia teams in simulated kidnaps, but the plan was killed because it failed to get off the ground. eric prince got his first cia contract in 2002 from alvin krongard who wound up joining the blackwater advisory board in 2007. chief black. blackwater's involvement in the program ended years ago under bush, "after senior cia officials themselves questioned the wisdom using outsiders in a targeted killing program." with us once again on the story tonight," the nation" magazine contributor jeremy stillwater. why would the bush administration think paying a private company was so bad? >> i don't think it was the case the bush administration thought it was a bad idea. let's remember what is at the epicenter of this scandal is the
fact dick cheney ordered the cia to conceal from the congress which has oversight authority the existence of a secret cia assassination plan. the war on terror was part of the war bush labeled the crusade. they worked overtly for the administration. we know as of may 2002 there were boots on the ground in afghanistan. i'm not sure the program has even ended to this day. blackwater continues to be paid by the united states government for work in both afghanistan and iraq. the issue here, as representative jan shakowsky told me, how far up the chain did it go? clearly the bush administration trusted eric prince, the king of blackwater more than the elected representatives of congress who are supposed to have oversight. >> they shared more than details, obviously. they basically shared staffs. it was a sequential thing the
way football coaches retire, work in television and got another in football. you've got this unnamed group of cia officials retiring to work at blackwater. explain the role of that evolving or the revolving door and the relative assassination ring, if you will. >> shortly after 911, buzzy krongard meets with eric prince. they authorize a black contract for blackwater to insert inside of afghanistan in kabul as well as in a town along the afghan/pakistan border where they operated out of a mud fortress they called the alamo. prince went over with thattings in blackwater deployment. after a week or so there, according to a cia operative we talked to, prince went to kabul
to try to win more business for blackwater. that launched blackwater as a mercenary operation. at the time they were crafting this relationship between the cia and blackwater, you had black running the counterterrorism center leading the hunt for bin laden talking about the gloves had come off and saying there were no limits on what operatives would be authorized to do hunting down terrorists. you have this history of blackwater from 2002 to the present where they worked overtly and covertly for the u.s. government. prince hires black, robert richard, enrique prado to run his own private cia which worked simultaneously for the u.s. government and foreign governments.
>> we already have blackwater employees who pleaded guilty to weapons smuggling, including the armor-piercing ammo devices. their affidavits of two of the vets of blackwater claiming eric prince went into this because he wanted to kill muslim people. now we find out they were hired as part of a secret international hit squad congress was never supposed to know about. put it together in terms of a context for us. what do we know now that we didn't know before this came out? >> what you have here is a confirmation blackwater, not only was working in an overt capacity for the state department and department of defense where they were overtly killing people, shooting iraqi civilians, et cetera, all in a
day's work, so to speak, but that they also were involved at the highest level of the clandestine level. they worked for the executive branch of the government and accountability. you have the white house being able to have ultimate plausible deniability. you don't have your own cia guys doing it. what this was effectively was a hit squad that responded to one branch of government, the executive branch, at the expense of any oversight or involvement of the other two. i would say this was unconstitutional. >> it's also already used in the movie "catch-22." this is milo and the private army. they wind up taking over the world. >> you have lord of the christian supremist spies here. >> thank you for illuminating it for us. john ensign says bill clinton was worst than he was, but senator vitter should be impeached.
rick blount says at his age 59, if he needed a hip replacement he could not get one in the national health systems of canada and england, but turns out to be lying wildly. he says, "i didn't pull that number out of thin air." we know where you pulled it out of. when rachel joins you, why senator grassley is using astroturf movements at town halls. what's the #1 mascara launch in recent history? it's lash blast! for the biggest, boldest lashes of your life! this big brush doubles the size of lashes. 6 million women have doubled theirs. try lash blast. only from easy, breezy beautiful... covergirl.
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senator ensign explains his infidelity was not nearly as bad as president clinton but implies david vitter should be impeached. that's next and first time for "countdown"'s number two story. number one, glenn beck. his radio people deny he was suspended for calling the president a racist or angering enough sponsors that 20 canceled commercials but sources tell tv newsers that "it was beck himself who was telling fox staffers last week that he was forced to take the week off." bronze to karl rove newly inducted into the scandinavian american hall of fame and described as one of the most prominent norwegian statesmen in the united states emboldened enough to demand apologies from two newspapers because he has yet to be indicted in the political prosecution of alabama former governor don siegelman. perhaps judiciary democrats will at the cuss on more important issues and will admit their
mistakes. it would be the responsible thing to do. i'll apologize for them. i'm sorry you haven't been indicted yet, karl. there's plenty of time remaining. runner-up senator john cornyn pumping paranoia that the white house offered to correct any spurious e-mails was called a fishy way to collect e-mail addresses of its opponent, same collection is done at the website of senator john cornyn of texas. want to write a letter of it, oppose him. have to leave your e-mail address and real-life address, street address and everything, where you live. one thing left out of this equation, people, some who work for insurance companies are sending out these mass spam e-mails and urging the recipients to send them on to everybody they know.
you got your wish, shut up. but i wanted to know whether roy blunt, the minority whip has told this one to the editorial boards of newspapers in springfield, m.o. and st. louis. i'm 59 in either canada or great britain if i broke my hip i couldn't get it replaced. two-thirds of the hip replacements done by the national health service in great britain were done on people 65 or older. 63% of those done in the canadian system were done on people 65 or older. >> 1,200 in canada were done on people older than 85. confronted with the astonishing inaccuracy congressman blunt did not live up to his name. i didn't just pull that number out of thin air. it came from "some people who were supposed to be experts on canadian health care." you didn't just pull that number out of thin air. you pulled it out of your backside. this illustrates how much those public servants owned by the insurance and health care industry, how much they're expected to try to kill reform. they have not merely suspended the minimum standard but suspended even the pretense of getting away with the lie. like senator blunt who just lied to his constituents, lied the entire nation and media and lied
stupidly and in such a way his lying would be caught within minutes. too bad we're worried about those lies of ensign and vitter. those might cost him office. blunt's lie is egregious enough and insulting enough in a perfect world it would force him to resign. congressman roy blunt, liar. today's worst person in the world. carol, when you replaced casual friday with nordic tuesday, was it really for fun, or to save money on heat? why? don't you think nordic tuesday is fun? oh no, it's fun... you know, if you are trying to cut costs, fedex can help. we've got express options, fast ground and freight service-- you can save money and keep the heat on. great idea. that is a great idea. well, if nordic tuesday wasn't so much fun. (announcer) we understand. you need to save money. fedex
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after having an affair with his married staff who happened to be married to another staff who happened to be one of his close friends and driven to a fedex by a gang of religious conservatives and send an overnight note ending the affair and meeting her the next day, after the parents gave the mistress and husband $96,000 as
a gift, nevada senator john ensign will not resign. the man who voted for impeachment for the president declares his own actions unimpeachable because i haven't done anything legally wrong. number one story, senator john ensign his his extramarital affair isn't as bad because he didn't lie to the public about it. which might not be true and puts senator vitter in such a spot. does it not? >> in his first string of public appearances after admitting to a legal affair with cindy hampton, ensign making a de facto apology tour in the northern part of the state, and in an interview with the associated press, attempting to explain why not all affairs are created equal. >> president clinton, first of all, he was president, stood right before the american people and lied to the american people. you know, you remember the famous day that he lined to the american people plus the fact that i thought he suborned perjury. >> joining me jon ralston. thanks for some of your time
tonight, sir. >> thanks for having me, keith. >> any logical reason why the senator should have invoked the former president? i mean did it not occur to him anybody could then find his quote from 1998 which was think about it. he, meaning clinton, sent taxpayer-paid staff out to lie for him and that is a misuse of office. might those words come back to haunt the senator, do you think? >> well, of course, they should, keith. he's had all kind of things back then. he said during that rehabilitation tour, the de facto apology tour as you called it that he was different than bill clinton because he didn't do anything legally wrong as you said. that's not even true because that's not why he asked bill clinton to resign. he said bill clinton should resign before the starr report came out because he had lost credibility.
you mentioned david vitter. he did no rush to judgment there, did he? he did a rush to judgment with larry craig because, you know, he solicited gay sex which is so offensive to ensign who believes in the sanctity of marriage and the rush to judgment with bill clinton. not john ensign shouldn't be calling for vitter to be impeached. john ensign by his own standards he set in 1998, keith, should be calling for john ensign to resign. >> the other part of this, of course, the ensign's lawyer is maintaining that the senator's parents gave the hampton family $96,000 as a gift. you famously interviewed doug hampton, the husband of ensign's mistress and said it was severance compensation. when he says in the ap article one of the reasons he voted to impeach clinton i thought it was a violation of a felony. couldn't he himself face a felony charge out of a finance law violation because of where the money came from. >> yes, indeed, the senate ethics committee and federal
election commission may be investigating just that. it is a potential felony to not disclose more than $25,000 in severance. as you mentioned doug hampton said on my program that was certainly severance. his explanation through his lawyer it's $96,000 as you derisively point out in gifts is just not credible because first of all they left out one of the kids, what's wrong with one of the kids? was he a badly behaving boy or something like that, keith. of course not. this just isn't credible and the timing. make sure people know when the gifts occurred. at the happened exactly at the same time that john ensign says doug hampton and cindy hampton packing from d.c. and back to las vegas. some gift. >> we mention senator vitter and with this logic shouldn't he in fact be calling for vitter to either resign or to be removed forcibly because if it's a question of your affair being illegal or legal, your infidelity being legal or illegal or legal, prostitution in washington is still illegal, even if you are a senator, right? >> indeed, it is, keith. at least technically. so i guess you would say that he should be calling for vitter to be out of office too. he's already defended vitter
saying he wasn't convicted of anything yet but, again, john ensign clearly has different standards for democrats or republicans who solicit gay sex than he does for himself or his pal david vitter. i just don't know why he would continue to talk about this and try to say that my affair was less bad than other people's and first of all, as i said, what he is saying is patently false about why he called for bill clinton to resign. he did not call for him to resign because he thought he committed a felony. he called for him to resign because he said "he had lost credibility" and, again, bill clinton, whatever you think of him did not go around pointing fingers at others. john ensign spent his career being up on that high horse. who is it that really lost credibility here, keith? >> when you try to keep it very complicated, nonsenseical line
of defense together it does tend to fall apart in rather obvious places even if you don't see how obvious it is. jon ralston of "the las vegas sun." great work on the story and great thanks for your time. >> thanks, keith. that's "countdown" for this, the 2,303rd day since the president declared mission accomplished in iraq. as lou dobbins used to say "and so it goes." the president says he's dedicated but more evidence that chuck grassley's dedication to use astroturfing to kill all health care reform. with that here is rachel maddow. good evening.